Antidote in Blue

Many animals need to hibernate in winter, though I personally enjoy the rare sight of snow in these parts. However, for some people I have to accept that long winter months of cold and gloom tend to trigger the blues. So, it got me reminiscing about previous visits to the Greek island of Hydra.

Here, for those feeling deprived of the vitality accompanying sunny summer days, is a prelude of things looming just beyond the horizon…

Hydra sky

 

White & Blue

Bell Tower

Mira Mare @ Mandraki Bay

Until we speak again, hold on to your dreams, and soak up the blue.

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Catch yourself on

Slow, slow, quick, quick…

For a city cat from Cardiff, a visit to the west of Ireland can provide a soporific change of gear. Not least because you have to catch yourself on to a naturally slower local pace of life.

Looking for a quiet indulgence in the national libation? We may not be ready just yet…

And there is a stark reminder that corners here were made for waiting on; even if they are not exactly on the corner! It is what it is, and you just have to catch yourself on

And, just because we are about 25 miles from the west coast doesn’t mean we can’t have a harbour, does it?

If it appears to you that we are ‘a few boats short of a regatta’, well, just catch yourself on

There again, the so-called Marina Point does provide home to further aquatic references, in the form of the Shearwater Hotel

This just maybe the place where the traditional lotion can be found. But, catch yourself on, it will only be served to you after an appropriate settling wait… as the local pace of life is more about quality than speed.

Further indulgence in the life of a snail brings its own rewards, as this is most certainly a cosy home where bovine and porcine companions can be found deliciously co-habiting in a bun…

Those who like their steaks of the lean variety, catch yourself on, and find a healthier part of the world. The juicy offerings here come with a protective layer of fat. But if that is not enough, try a basket of triple cooked chunky chips and a base of caramelised onions. Button mushrooms intrude on the base to showcase what healthy eating could be… if you were somewhere else, that is!

Until we speak again, check out county Galway in the west of Ireland, and Ballinasloe particularly, if you want to catch yourself on to a lifestyle of the slow.

A religious experience

The Last Supper

“Jesus… it is so easy to become one of the devoted disciples after crucifying some fried oysters!”

Welcome to blasphemers corner. But, that is something that NOLA [colloquial term for New Orleans, Louisiana] can do to you. A recent moment’s quiet contemplation, and suddenly I was there again. The day is 5th October 2017; the time is approximately 9.30pm; the bar is Vacherie in New Orleans.

The snare is a plate of fried oysters on spinach salad with belly pork and a bacon vinaigrette, with a glass of porter on the side. For tomorrow I take my leave, and a NOLA resurrection will have to wait.

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Until we speak again, in memory of Juno & Bella, Veganuary converts need not apply!

A Dumbfuckistan Trilogy

With only hours to go before the first Trump ‘State of the Disunion’ address, you can forget any great expectations of a new leaf being turned. With apologies to Matt Damon, there will only be Jason Bourne style amnesic chicanery, but without all of the engaging slick trickery.

Part 1 ~ The Dumbfuckistan Identity

Research recently reported in the [much maligned in high towers] New York Times tells the world what it sadly already knows… that the identity of the world’s strongest country is gun-shaped.

Americans are 4.4% of the global population, yet possess 42% of the world’s guns.

31% of mass shootings across the globe between 1966 and 2012 were by Americans.

In 2009 the US gun homicide rate was 33/million; compare that with countries where there is much tighter gun control: Canada = 5/million, and the UK = 0.7/million.

It is true that mass shootings can happen anywhere on the planet, but they only happen routinely in America.

Perhaps on reflection it was after Sandy Hook, where the mass killing of children somehow became a bearable consequence of the right to bear arms, that the ridiculous national identity was finally sealed.

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Part 2 ~ The Dumbfuckistan Supremacy

“I may be a teenage boy’s ego wrapped in a bum-crack combover to you, but my button is bigger than yours, and it works!”

 

Part 3 ~ The Dumbfuckistan Ultimatum

“If it went wrong, it was Obama’s fault, whatever it was. If it is going right, it will be great, really great; because I did it!”

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Until we speak again, Juno and Bella hope you don’t have too many Twitter-infused sleepless nights.

Hangin’ in the Treme…

Hangin’ in the Treme

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…Watchin’ people sashay
Past my steps
By my porch
In front of my door…

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Church bells are ringin’
Choirs are singing
While the preachers groan
And the sisters moan
In a blessed tone

 

Down in the treme
Is me and my baby
We’re all going crazy
While jamming and having fun

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Trumpet bells ringing
Bass drum is swinging
As the trombone groans
And the big horn moans
And there’s a saxophone

Festival Stage

Treme is a colourful location for the masterpiece post-Katrina drama series, as well as being a place of historic cultural significance…

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It was thanks to a tip off from the vunderbar Sue at the Vacherie Bar on Toulouse Street that resulted in me heading on down for an experience of stunning food and cool jazz in the heat of the afternoon…

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Until we speak again, keep jamming and having fun!

Full acknowledgements go to John Boutte for the lyrics of the Treme theme tune.

Seafood diet

Nowhere is the old adage “a see food and eat it diet” more apt than in a culinary navigation of New Orleans. What is it with that fundamental cats to fish attraction? This cat has always been rather circumspect about eating them, and much happier to enjoy them as a visual display. But, as I stroll around New Awlings anything that enjoys a water-based existence had better look out.

If you are looking for a tasteful starting point, listen when your knowledgeable company interrupts the fine Californian Pinot Noir with a recommendation. “Have you tried Turtle Soup?” she asked. A quick scan of the cans in my mind suggested that neither Heinz or Campbells have yet delivered up such a delicacy in my local soup kitchen. “Garçon, crack open some turtles!” I thought, fortunately without actually saying it. And Tableau on Jackson Square introduced me to a whole new gastronomic pleasure…

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Then, if you fancy a salad to satisfy the palate in the build up to the main event, why not drop in on Vacherie on Toulouse Street for a fried oyster and spinach salad. Sophisticates amongst you may say that a cool sauvignon blanc will complement it just fine; unsophisticates such as I, will find a glass of porter does the trick…

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When thinking about main dishes I rarely find myself wondering what will go with the brussels sprouts. But, at EAT on Dauphine Street the blackened salmon provides the perfect mix of crispy and tasty accompaniment. They just don’t know how to do great chips in America though! Fries! what’s that all about?

Meanwhile, back at Tableau on Jackson Square, the gulf yellowfin tuna with a poached egg came with a waiter recommendation of “cooked rare”. My lifetime scepticism about the edification of fish led me to go medium rare; which convinced me that the rare variety would probably have been eyeing me up for a fight or making its own way back to the kitchen…

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And my dining companion decided on the ‘heads on’ shrimp and grits. Nothing like having your dinner eyeing you up! Though hiding behind some plant-like camouflage wasn’t really going to fool a ravenous Mississippi belle…

Until we speak again, if it is the Oceana Grill in the French Quarter it must be time to share half ‘n’ half blackened and fried alligator bites… and make it snappy! The old ones are the best (jokes, that is, not alligators). Okay, so it’s not exactly a seafood dish, but that’s not a conversation I’m having with any alligators, so they’re in…

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Requiem in numbers…

New York City has become, for me,  a place of numbers. Who can reflect on the machinations of Gotham without ‘9’ and ’11’ quickly coming to mind. For those alive and old enough at the time, the images of the Twin Towers falling will be indelibly imprinted on the collective memory.

So, an immediate number of significance is ‘2’. The very footprints of these two subsequent icons of the imagination are now perfectly and emotionally represented in the form of two Memorial Fountains

The advent of the One World Observatory in the Freedom Tower raises the prominence of ‘1’ in the new landscape of the World Trade Centre

But who could forget the intervening ‘0’ of Ground Zero, with perimeter fences of heart-rending messages from loved ones. The site now partly accommodates the very moving 9/11 Memorial Museum

‘2002’ rings in a new chapter of hope…

And St Pauls Chapel provides an iconic place of sanctuary to share, or simply shed, a tear within the ubiquitous madness that is always Lower Manhattan. With a reminder you are in just one part of ‘5’ Boroughs devasted by the events of that fateful day…

Until we speak again, a new vista on the world has opened up to offer a future of innumerable memories and experiences…